Lance Creek, Wyoming

An early picture of Lance Creek
An early picture of Lance Creek

Last updated: November 18, 2015

Niobrara Historical Brevity
July 1, 1986

From "Niobrara Historical Brevity" published by the
Niobrara Historical Society, in observance of the Lusk Centennial 1886-1986

The community of Lance Creek is located 19 miles north of Manville on Highway 270. Originally a cattle ranching area, Lance Creek Oil Field became the largest producing oil field in the Rocky Mountain Region. Several wells were drilled in the area and abandoned. Ohio Oil Co. found the first oil sand on March 13, 1918. It yielded 80 barrels of oil the first 24 hours. They resumed drilling and on Oct. 6, 1918, they brought in the first well known as the discovery well. It flowed at the rate of 1500 barrels.

This discovery brought an immediate boom and derricks sprang up everywhere. Some of the oil companies operating in the field were: Ohio Oil (later Marathon), Midwest Oil Co., The Western State Oil and Land Co., The Buck Creek Oil Co. (later Mutual and now Continental), Texas Co., The General Petroleum Co., The Wyo-Monatana Co., later Union oil acquired holdings in the field.

As the rush started, rigs and camp equipment were hauled in, freighting was heavy as the trucks then were able to haul only 3 tons to the load. Many horse teams and wagons were pressed into services. In a four day period 1,110,000# of freight were moved from Lusk alone. The pipeline was started in 1919. Men working around the clock hired women to wait in line at the post office for their mail. Gas wells resulted in the J. M. Huber Corp. building the Carbon Black Plant. The plant was built in 1916-27 and many businesses were built nearby including a cook shack where men could get a hot meal. It was torn down in 1941.

Many camps made up the Lance Creek Community. There were the Leo, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Argo, Rocky Mt., Carbon Black, Bell, Consolidated, Union, Western State, Minnelusa, Midwest, Continental Gas Plant and Production (later known as Ohio or Marathon), Illinois, Tank Farm, Buck Creek, Mosierville and Ohio #1 through #7 camps in addition to the main one - The Gate-way which is still in existence.

At its peak of operation, there were 1500 people living in the Lance Creek Community.

In March 1935 Ohio Oil Co. (who had continued drilling deeper wells) completed a well that produced over 2000 barrels daily. Ohio, Continental and Argo drilled more basal Sundance wells. The Continental Oil Co. had just erected a modern gasoline extraction plant to extract the high gasoline content of the oil, thus giving more royalty to the already fortunate landowner.

One Story is told about a gentleman who owned land in the Lance Creek area during the original oil boom and things started looking rosy for him. Shoes had been hard to buy, his home was the same as other homesteaders, his cupboard often looked like Mother Hubbards, but still he plugged on. When the boom began he place a price upon his land but while he was battling with his better judgment, drillers brought in a water well close by and at the time, the oil companies backed away. In 1935 drilling experts knew how to shut the water flow off and go about looking for oil. On the same land he prized so highly during the 1918-1919 boom , he finally got his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and spread his cheer among the men who helped bring the well in. He presented each of the sixteen men with a fine Stetson hat of his choice. It was the largest single order of Stetsons ever made in the state of Wyoming.

In the meantime, the road between Lusk and Lance Creek was upgraded and traveling was made easier.

In 1938 the four inch pipeline being laid for Continental Oil Co. from Lance Creek to Glenrock was completed. An 8 inch pipeline between Lance Creek and Cheyenne and a 6 inch pipeline from Cheyenne to Denver was built.

Continental, Ohio and Argo Oil Companied drilled water wells and a plentiful supply of good water now supplied the community. A 6000 barrel storage tank 48 feet high was built on a hill west of Gateway.

In October of 1941 there was a complete shutdown by the major companies. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Niobrara Co. and Lance Creek swung into emergency action? and drilling picked up.

Production started dwindling and the 1950's saw many being transferred to oil fields in other regions. As people moved out, so did the houses and little remains of the many camps that made up the community.

Electric lights came in 1949, various oil companies had phones but in 1961 phones were available to the public. There have been numerous schools in this area. There were two schools in 1943-the East and West Lance Creek Schools. Near where Highway 270 and 272 are now known, a 2 year high school was started in 1925 and in 1935 the 11th grade was added. Niobrara County Schools were consolidated in 1954 and now many students are bused to Lusk.

A Sunday School was started in 1934. A small frame house was moved to a site just southeast of Gateway. "The Little Chapel on The Hill" served as a church for 17 years. Various ministers have served the Lance Creek Community Church. St. Leo's Catholic Church also served the community for many years.

The Post Office was established Nov. 19, 1919 with Frances J. Ragen as postmaster. Other post offices in the area were: Deuel-Warren F. Deuel-March 1918; Dogie-Reta Butler Swope and Leverett-Charles A Johnson-1923. The post office is still active in 1986. Lance Creek did not have a bank - there were numerous cafes, barber shops, beauty parlors, mechanic shops, grocery stores, filling and service stations, cold storage plant, lumber companies, hardware and feed store, drug stores, turkey farm, grade A dairies, laundry, shoe repair shop, trucking companies, construction companies, and oil well cementing co., a 5 and 10, several bars and a beer parlor. Those seeking recreation could play golf, tennis, shoot at the rifle range, go roller skating and ice skating, see a movie, go bowling, play pool or it you had a plane, Lance Creek has it's own airport. Organizations in the field were: Girl and Boy Scouts, Black Gold and Sagebrush extension clubs, Tanglefoot Square Dance Club, The Three Link Club, Lance Creek Lodge #13 I.O.O.F. (founded 12/15/1939), Black Gold Rebekah Lodge #22 (March 9, 1940) - in later years with too few members, they joined lodges in Lusk.

There have been many tragedies, numerous accidents, explosions and fires and tornadoes have claimed many lives over the years. Many buildings were lost to fires because the closest fire protection was Lusk.

In 1986 Lance Creek has between 75 to 100 inhabitants.

The Lusk Herald
July 9, 1986
Lance Creek 'proved' in 1918

Lance Creek Field, 20 miles north of Lusk, was proved in October, 1918, with the completion of a well which flowed 1500 barrels daily.

The Lusk Herald on October 10, 1918 carried the following:

"L-U-S-K, which was temporarily placed on the map of the United States during a feverish oil boom last spring, has now been put there permanently and riveted down to prevent any future relapse.

"The Lusk oil field has been proved by the bringing in of a well which is in reality a 'gusher.' The well at last account was flowing at the rate of 1,500 barrels for the 24 hours. This is good news to Lusk people who have had unwavering confidence that the reputation of the field would be established. It is freely predicted that three or four more wells will be brought in this month and a real boom will be on."

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Debbie Sturman, Director
425 South Main Street, P O Box 510
Lusk, WY 82225-0510
Phone: 307-334-3490
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